SCOPE OF SOCIOLOGY

 

 

Practice Question –  In the context of globalisation, has the scope of sociology been changing India ? Comment. [UPSC 2020]

Approach – Introduction, What is the Scope of Sociology?, Discuss it in the context of changing scope of sociology with respect to globalisation, Take the help of thinkers views to establish your answer, Conclusion.

 

INTRODUCTION

The term Sociology was coined by Auguste Comte, a French philosopher, in 1839. The teaching of sociology as a separate discipline started in 1876 in the United States, in 1889
in France, in 1907 in Great Britain, after World War I in Poland and India, in 1925 in Egypt and Mexico, and in 1947 in Sweden. Sociology is the youngest of all the Social Sciences. The word Sociology is derived from the Latin word ‘societies’ meaning ‘society’ and the Greek word ‘logos’ are meaning ‘study or science’. The etymological meaning of ‘sociology’ is thus the ‘science of society’. In other words, Sociology is the study of man’s behaviour in groups or of the inter-action among human beings, of social relationships and the processes by which
human group activity takes place.

 

DEFINITION OF SOCIOLOGY

Sociology is being defined differently by our sociologists and other’s each one of course, has its own news about the nature and scope of the subject, as he conceives it.

According to Ward “Sociology is science of society”. George Simmel opines that it is a subject which studies human inter-relationship.

Giddens is of the view that “Sociology is scientific study of society”.

Max Weber has viewed sociology as “Science which attempts imperative understanding of social actions”.

Ogburn has said that, “Sociology is concerned with the study of social life and its relations to the factors of culture, natural environment, heredity and group.”

 

SCOPE OF SOCIOLOGY

Sociologist and others differ what should be the scope of sociology. August Comte makes us believe that sociology should  try to study social phenomena on scientific lines. He has thus laid stress on scientific approach. Emile Durkheim has tried to separate sociology from other social science subjects and also tried to give an independent status to this subject. In his own way Pareto has tried to give it scientific orientation. According to him in sociology there should be no place for inferences. He is sure that there is basic unity among various social phenomena. He is of the view that sociology is much of science and social problems should and can be scientifically studied. Max Weber has however said that sociology should merely be interpretative understanding of social actions and nothing beyond that.

Specialistic or Formalistic School

There are two main schools of thought about the scope of sociology. Formal school of thought believes that scope of sociology should not be generalized but confined to the study of some specific aspects of society. The exponents of this school wish to keep the subject pure and independent. According to them it should deal with social relationships, social activities and processes of socialization.

According to Simmel, the distinction between Sociology and other special sciences is that it deals with the same topics as they from a different angle—from the angle of different modes of social relationships.

Max Weber also makes out a definite field for Sociology. According to him, the aim of Sociology is to interpret or understand social behaviour. But social behaviour does not cover the whole field of human relations. Indeed not all human inter-actions are social.

Vier Kandt, , who is another exponent of this school of thought, is of the view that sociology should confine itself to the study of formal and not the actual behavior of the people in the
society.

Synthetic school

The school of thought believes that sociology should study society as a whole and not confine itself to the study of only limited social problems. Auguste comte believes
that the scope of sociology should be considerably widened. According to him the study of one aspect of society can lead to misleading results because all aspects of society, like parts of
human body, are inter-linked. Hobb-House and Sorokin also contribute to this view point. They too believe that Sociology should study society as a whole.

Durkheim’s view: “Sociology is a science of collective representation”. He believes in the collection of people in society. When there is collection there must be wider scope for collective representation there must be majority of people hence it will be social facts. Since it has a social fact they are instrumental in guiding and controlling thebehavior of society. 

Sorokin’s view: “Sociology is the generalizing science”. He is the profounder of systematic study. In his book ‘contemporary sociology’ he observes that social is a general science. It
studies the general characteristics of the society of the relationship of social and non-social phenomena. 

Hobhouse’s view: “Social is the synthesis of various social sciences”. He means social is a general study which studies society as a whole from all aspects i.e. the combination of all social sciences – Sociologist must pursue his study from a particular part of society (social friend). When he studies thus he must interconnect his result with the results arrived from other social sciences and then he should interpret society as a whole.

 

KEY TAKEAWAY

Sociology as a science and as a distinct field of study is of recent origin. It is the youngest social science. But the history of social life with its complexities and problems is as old as human beings itself. Poets, Philosophers, Writers and Scholars made several attempts in their own way to understand social life, society and social problems and to provide solutions to it. No doubt sociology as a separate science and sociology as we understand it today emerged very late but it does not mean that no attempts were made in ancient period to study human behavior, human relations and society.

Several attempts were made to understand social phenomena since ancient times but these were not systematic and scientific in nature. But a systematic study of society and social relations came into existence particularly in the west when the genius of Greece devoted their mind on this. Famous Greek Philosopher Plato in his book ‘Republic and Aristotle in ‘Ethics and Politics’ made attempt to study systematically the law, the state and society. Similarly among the Romans most outstanding Scholar Cicero’s famous book “De Officis” (on justice) deals with philosophy, law, politics and sociology.

But in India the origin of social thought were found in different religious scriptures like Veda, Upanishads, Sastras and Puranas. Laws of Manu, Parasara, Sukracharya’s Nitishastra, Kautilya’s Arthasastra, Ain-e-Akbari of Abul Fazal had a lot of references of social, economic political and legal aspects of society. The famous Muslim social thinker of middle age named Abd-al-Rahman Ibn Katdun is considered as the real founder of sociology by some scholars. Because his famous sociological work ‘Muqaddamah deals with rise and fall of states and causes of social change and society.

However, inspite of the above facts it is well accepted that sociology emerged as a response to the crisis caused by the French and the industrial revolution. But as a systematic discipline sociology came into existence in the first half of the 19th century. To be more exact the term sociology was coined by the famous French Sociologist Auguste Comte in the year 1839. In his famous book ‘Positive Philosophy’ Comte pointed out the need for the creation of a distinct science of society which he first called ‘Social Physics’ and later changed it’s name to sociology. He opines that sociology should concern itself with an analysis and explanation of social phenomena and hope that man would became the master of his social destiny by studying the science of society.

 

 

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